は is Ha in the Syllabic family (Ha hi F[h]u he ho, ka ki ku ke ko, etc) and is pronounced as such in every word and context other than as a particle. In a different discussion someone told me that は was kept for the sentence topic marker and pronounced "wa" because it was easier than teaching an entire nation that had gotten used to using that character that way.
this reply may be outdated for the OP and other replies, but I thought I'd add my thoughts and necro.
No idea if that's true, but language tends to evolve as a matter of convenience. I could see that happening, especially before the age of instant communication and near universal literacy. Convenience and tradition could also be why が is commonly pronounced as either "ga" or the nasal "nga," though it's subtler than the variation "ha/wa" of は.
My problem is that it did not make it clear that what I was supposed to do :( I'm new to duolingo. I assumed that we were supposed to select both the capitalized word AND the uncaptilized word, so I ended up getting it wrong.
It would be better if we only saw one instance of the correct choice.
Duolingo teaches through student’s errors. The more mistakes you make the more you will learn. I often make mistakes intentionally so I will be shown tpa problem again. Duolingo will keep giving you a problem until you get it right. I add in a couple of xes to error out on purpose. I always do this whenever I am forced to do a peek. I want to only be credited for a right answer when I genuinely know the answer
You will come across this regularly on the app; one word capitalized and one not. You will rhen have to read the sentence and see when the double word shows up to know which one is correct. In this instance, since it is a single word as if replying to something, it would be capitalized.
Example: "Yes, it is." vs "It is, yes."
I hope this helps.
I like to think of it as an acknowledgement, typically affirmative or customary, and it can be used to agree with a sentiment even in the negative sense. Hence, it can work in the same fashion as "correct" or "right" being used to confirm that you heard, understand, and accept what is being said. This one is particularly easy to forget all of the different uses. It's really flexible. The same word can be used by a salary worker while being berated by their supervisor for a mistake (respectful acknowledgement) or a child bemoaning the chores their parent is assigning them (whining up a storm) or anyone responding to their name being called. It's like a mashup of yes, right, fine, and acknowledging noises. Tone and context would determine the most appropriate translation, but "yes" and agreement are good defaults to assume. It's one of those words where if you hear it in context, its meaning and utility is obvious. The grammar around it may be confusing and headache-inducing, but はい always makes sense.
It has been explained close to the top comments, but my understanding is that it is normaly supposed to be ha, and only wa when used as a topic marker. So it is a mistake on duolingos part, that it is being pronounced as wa when standing alone. Plz correct me if Im wrong
Japanese has a very small syllabary and is full of homophones.
In this context best to stick with a simple "yes" translation, but there are many words with this same pronunciation that you would have to determine based on the context they are used in or the kanji they are written with.
肺 "hai" means "lung(s)"
灰 "hai" means "ash"
杯 "hai" means "sake cup"
胚 "hai" means "embryo"
敗 "hai" means "loss/defeat"
牌 "hai" means "medal/shield/badge"
Not the language itself, but Japanese stories (pick your medium of choice) often include nods to alternative interpretation. Since many folks enjoy a good manga or anime series, myself included, a closer look at the fictional character/town/school name can reveal clever or obvious wordplay. Shiro from No Game No Life has white hair, and when combined with her brother's name, Sora, you can form blank which is the pair's actual nickname/alias used for games. Some others I can think of either require a lot of explanation or reach into spoiler territory, sorry. But there can be real life situations as well. Consider someone named Yuki who writes their name as snow - they will probably get a chuckle from their peers if they say they hate snowy weather.
It's kind of a universal thing, regardless of language. I know a Rose who is quite thorny without her morning coffee. My state name is a combination of Louis & Ann(e), and some couples sharing those names occasionally travel to the deep south just so they can get engaged or have a wedding in the state with their names in union. Sidenote: That's sweet and all, but the heat & humidity are terrible for the uninitiated. You'll eat the best damn seafood of your life, but you'll be sweating buckets from the climate (and Cajun spices in the jambalaya). Speaking of heat, know anyone with the name Summer who likes feeling warm? Maybe the same could apply to Natsu from Fairy Tail.
The intentional or accidental puns are abundant, especially because of the many overlapping syllabaries and with all of the kanji combination and alternative readings. The Japanese culture is rich with recognizing meaning beyond literal definition as well. Forgot where I learned it, but the kanji for people 人 resembles two people back-to-back leaning on each other for support. Can't unsee it, and it's seared into my mind. I'm not sure if this kinda thing is taught in school or if it arises from word of mouth. It's just one of the neat parts of Japan that I admire.
It’s because it used to be pronounced ha but as a particle it slowly began to sound like wa over a long process of Japanese history it can be confusing at first but just remember it should be remembered as ha but is pronounced as wa most of the time. :) good luck and keep learning man
Actually, it isn't pronounced as wa most of time. It's only pronounced that way as a particle, which for others is a grammar point taught in a lesson or two. Take a look:
gohan wa tabemasen.
Here, the first は is pronounced as normal because it's part of a word, while the second は is pronounced wa since it marks the topic. This is easier to see with kanji:
gohan wa tabemasen.
Here, it's a lot more obvious how to pronounce it since the first は is represented in 飯, while the second は is left to stand alone. Plus, wa has it's own kana わ otherwise, as in 私 (わたし).
And for those who understood my example sentence, I know it's absurd and preposterous as a Japanese phrase :p [2019/03/22]
Yes and no
This has been answered a few times on this discussion
は in/as a word is pronounced as its standard "ha" reading, but when used as a Topic Particle in a sentence it takes on a "wa" reading.
Most often you'll see it by itself as the topic particle "wa", but "ha" by itself can also be a word meaning "tooth", "leaf" or "edge". You'll most always see these words in their kanji form however to avoid confusion. Since you'll probably learn the vocab and how its spelled before the kanji though this is good to remember. It has confused many new learners when hovering over parts of a sentence and seeing the word "tooth" show up as a hint where it should actually be the topic marker.
Mostly yes, but it's just slightly different from outright agreement, where you share the same same feeling. It's a bit more like accepting the sentiment being shared with you. For foreigners, you'll be understood just fine if you answer はい in the affirmative because it's so technically similar to our yes. Yet there are maaany ways to confirm that you understand, that you agree, or that everything said is correct, and some may fit better with certain contexts / familiarity. You have to make a mental note of how some terms are typically used, including affirming answers.
Like, take English. If someone you're dating asks you, "Do you love me?" they might be a little disappointed if you answer, "Okay." Very similar meaning to yes but there's some important nuance. Gotta expose yourself to a bunch of dialogue in different scenarios until responses feel natural. Duo's pretty good for that, but also listen to interviews and random clips / YouTube videos to get a better grasp of common terms.
"Yes/no" are introduced in the Tips and Notes for this skill
You can also hover over any word in a sentence to see a translation hint